Few travelers know that the geographical center of Europe is in western Ukraine (near the city of Rakhov). Not surprisingly, that the truly European city of Lviv is located in this part of the country. Going there on a boring three-day conference, I did not expect that a romantic adventure was waiting for me.
Throwing things in the hotel and registering at the conference, I realized that the event would be long and boring, and decided to walk around the city. Before that, I once was in Lviv, but only in transit, so I did not remember much. First of all, I went to the Lviv Opera Theater – one of the most beautiful temples of Melpomene in Europe. Then I decided to travel around the city on a sightseeing bus and went in search of this bus. Standing at the traffic light, I asked the respectable middle-aged man how to find me Galicia Square. He not only showed me the way, but also offered to take a picture of me on the background of Lviv attractions. As a result, he became my personal guide in Lviv.
Lviv is considered the coffee capital of Ukraine, so it’s no surprise that my companion decided to invite me to the most original local coffee house called “Lviv Coffee Mine” on Rynok Square, 10. The feature is that there is a kind of “mine for coffee extraction” in the coffee house and for see this process with own eyes, visitors are given real miner helmets with flashlights. The walls of the mine are really covered with coffee beans, and in the improvised trench there is a trolley that allegedly takes out the “deposit of coffee” from the mine. Many tourists even begin to believe that coffee is really extracted here.
All tables in the coffee house are in the twilight, which creates an intimate atmosphere. I want to note that the coffee here is really delicious, especially with a fresh apple strudel. Sipping coffee, we were talking and I learned that my “guide” named Alexander – a professional sportsman in the past – has long been living in Lviv and has his own gym here. Leaving the coffee house, he bought for me a whole package of coffee here, so that when I will get home I can enjoy its unique taste.
We spent a lot of time with Alexander walking around Lviv, admiring his ancient architecture, visiting orthodox cathedrals and Catholic churches, taking pictures near the town hall and tasting handmade sweets in the Lviv chocolate workshop. The evening was successful, too…
And the next day early in the morning I went on an excursion to the Carpathians, having decided that the mountains are an integral part of the program of visiting western Ukraine. It was an unforgettable day! It should be noted that this was the end of May and the mountains pleased the eye with the most juicy green color. With a group of tourists we climbed on one of the mountain peaks (of course, on the lift), warmed up there with tea from the Carpathian herbs (someone with something stronger) and visited a few beautiful places, among them the Shepit waterfall and Lake Sinevir.
This is the most beautiful, the largest and the deepest lake in Ukraine. In the frame of mountains it looks like a truly perfect creation of nature. On the way back, we stopped at the Carpathian Reserve, where brown bears, who suffered in captivity, are being rehabilitated.
After feeding the bears with bread, we decided to have a meal in one of the local cafes, which here is called “kolyba”. So that to fully experience the local flavor, we ordered traditional Carpathian dishes: banush (kulesh from corn flour), crompls (potato casserole with sausage), mushroom soup, bograch (goulash cooked on open fire), deruns (grated potato pancakes) and others. We returned to Lviv after midnight.
On the third day I again walked around Lviv with Alexander. He showed me one of the most famous places in the city – the High Castle mountain, from the top of which a magnificent panorama of Lviv opens. To get on the very top of the mountain with a height of 413 meters, it takes about 20 minutes to climb the spiral staircase, surrounded by greenery. In the Middle Ages, there really was a defensive castle, from which now only ruins remained. Nevertheless, this is a very atmospheric and romantic place, especially if your companion all the time holds your hand…
Not far from the High Castle there is the ethno park Shevchenkovskiy gai, in which Alexander showed me the old Ukrainian huts covered with straw, with furnaces, modest furniture and embroidered towels. In many of them there are workshops for soap making, weaving, baking bread in the furnace, blacksmith and pottery crafts. You can enter in almost every hut and see everything in details.
There are also an ancient wooden church and a water mill, and the kobzars play on authentic musical instruments. In this ethnographic open-air museum, I felt very comfortable and calm.
It was a beautiful sunny day, there were few people in the park and I did not want to leave it at all… But the train was waiting for me in the evening.
Alexander bought me many souvenirs, drove me to the station, stood with me on the platform, hugged me at last time and wished a happy way. Within a few hours, one thousand kilometers separated us… We have been calling each other for some time, but we have not met since. But my trip to Lviv was really unforgettable. Would I like to come back here again? Of course, yes. And I know that I’ll definitely be back.